Sunday, 21 October 2012

All Grain #10 - Bottling the Bluebird

Last time, I wrote that I had decided to try a Bluebird clone, but use a significant amount of very late hops.

Well, the brew went quite well. I seemed  to hit all the volumes and gravities, with perhaps the finishing gravity being a little high (1.014 rather than 1.013). Having said that, there was no way I was going to get 3.6% out of this wort and yeast. Either Coniston have a phenomenal control of fermentation, which I suppose goes hand in hand with a more professional brewery, or their yeast has one hell of an attenuation rate. Well, 3% ABV isn't that bad, is it?

So, it all get kegged today. Great colour, that lovely burnished gold that draft Bluebird's a particularly fine example from it's home in Coniston - a well deserved pint after a day on the hills with 45 undergrads!:

And did that late hopping work? Indeed it did, and this is quite exciting - almost 60g of Challenger hops added with 5 minutes to go. This gave me half of my bitterness, and it is still there. It's crisp and really enjoyable, well balanced. However, most of all, the hoppiness is there in the nose, in a way I have not been able to get before. Challenger is not a big aroma hop, and it's %AA is relatively low compared to the New World hops.  The aroma is one of hops (yes, I know that sounds remarkable!) rather than citrus or any of the stuff you get with hops like Chinook and Amarillo. It's kind of a grassy, spicy smell, not unlike the 'hop store' aroma of the hops in their packed state. Rather nice, and reminds me that the 'hopheads' who keep piling New World lupilin into their beers need to touch base with home occasionally!

Clearly, for the pocket, late hopping is a bit of an issue, but the results have been good so far. With some of the bigger aroma hops, with higher %AA, I can probably cut down on use. However, as a first go, with some good British hops, the results are decent. What it also means, is that I have probably been a little conservative in the past with my late aroma hops. It is also a technique to keep in mind when I have hops that need to be used. The single varietal pale ale approach isn't a bad tactic every now and then - a session beer with interest, easy to make and using up hops before they tire.

I hope I don't get any kegging nightmares before I can start drinking in 2-3 weeks. For some unknown reason, I seem to have yielded more beer than usual - the pressure barrel is full, so I hope there are no explosions.

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